The Polish alphabet is the script of the Polish language, the basis for the Polish system of orthography. It is based on the Latin alphabet but includes certain letters with diacritics: the kreska or acute accent (ć, ń, ó, ś, ź); the overdot or kropka (ż); the tail or ogonek (ą, ę); and the stroke (ł). The letters q, v and x, which are used only in foreign words, are frequently not considered part of the Polish alphabet. However, prior to the standardization of the Polish language, the letter "x" was sometimes used in place of "ks".
The following table lists the letters of the alphabet, their Polish names (see also Names of letters below), the Polish phonemes which they usually represent, rough English (or other) equivalents to the sounds of those phonemes, and other possible pronunciations. Diacritics are shown for the sake of clarity. For more information about the sounds, see Polish phonology.
|Polish name||Usual value||Rough English (or
|A||a||a||/ä/||large||More front [a] between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|Ą||ą||ą||/ɔ̃/||nasal o as own or French an in français or en in rendez-vous||[ɔn], [ɔŋ], [ɔm]; merges with /ɔ/ before /w/ (see Nasal vowels)|
|B||b||be||/b/||bed||[p] when devoiced|
|C||c||ce||/t̪͡s̪/||pits||[d̪͡z̪] if voiced. For ch, ci, cz see Digraphs|
|Ć||ć||cie||/t͡ɕ/||cheap (alveolo-palatal)||[d͡ʑ] if voiced|
|D||d||de||/d̪/||dog||[d̺] before /d͡ʐ/; [t̪] when devoiced; [t̺] before /t͡ʂ/. For dz etc. see Digraphs|
|E||e||e||/ɛ/||bed||[e] between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|Ę||ę||ę||/ɛ̃/||nasal e||[ɛn], [ɛŋ], [ɛm]; merges with /ɛ/ before /w/ and often word-finally (see Nasal vowels)|
|F||f||ef||/f/||fingers||[v] if voiced|
|G||g||gie||/ɡ/||go||[k] when devoiced. For gi see Digraphs|
|H||h||ha||/x/||Scots loch||[ɣ] if voiced, may be glottal [ɦ] in a small number of dialects. For ch and (c)hi see Digraphs|
|I||i||i||/i/||meet||[j] before a consonant; marks palatization of the preceding consonant before a vowel (see Spelling rules)|
|K||k||ka||/k/||king||[ɡ] if voiced. For ki see Digraphs|
|L||l||el||/l/||light||May be [lʲ] instead in eastern dialects|
|Ł||ł||eł||/w/||will||May be [ɫ̪] instead in eastern dialects|
|M||m||em||/m/||men||[ɱ] before labiodental consonants|
|N||n||en||/n̪/||not||[n̺] before /t͡ʂ d͡ʐ/; can be [ŋ] before /k ɡ/. For ni see Digraphs|
|Ń||ń||eń||/ɲ̟/||canyon (alveolo-palatal)||Can be [j̃] in syllable coda|
|O||o||o||/ɔ/||British English long||[o] between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|Ó||ó||ó, o z kreską or u zamknięte||/u/||boot||[ʉ] between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|P||p||pe||/p/||spot||[b] if voiced|
|R||r||er||/r/||trilled r||Often [ɾ] in fast speech. For rz see Digraphs|
|S||s||es||/s̪/||sea||For sz, si see Digraphs|
|Ś||ś||eś||/ɕ/||sheep (alveolo-palatal)||[ʑ] (cf. Ź) if voiced|
|T||t||te||/t̪/||start||[t̺] before /t͡ʂ/; [d̪] if voiced; [d̺] before /d͡ʐ/.|
|U||u||u, u zwykłe or u otwarte||/u/||boot||[ʉ] between palatal or palatalized consonants, sometimes [w] after vowels|
|W||w||wu||/v/||vow||[f] when devoiced|
|Y||y||y or igrek||/ɘ̟/||short i as in bit|
|Z||z||zet||/z̪/||zoo||[s̪] when devoiced. For digraphs see Digraphs|
|Ź||ź||ziet||/ʑ/||vision (alveolo-palatal)||[ɕ] when devoiced. For dź see Digraphs|
|Ż||ż||żet or zet z kropką||/ʐ/||vision||[ʂ] when devoiced. For dż see Digraphs|
The letters q (named: ku), v (named: fau), and x (named iks) do not belong to the Polish alphabet, but are used in some foreign words and commercial names. In loanwords they are often replaced by kw, w, and ks, respectively (as in kwarc "quartz", weranda "veranda", ekstra "extra").
The spoken Polish names of the letters are given in the table under Letters above. The additional letters Q, V and X are named ku, fau and iks.
The names of the letters are not normally written out in the way shown above, except as part of certain lexicalized abbreviations, such as Pekao (or PeKaO), the name of a bank, which represents the spoken form of the abbreviation P.K.O.
Some letters may be referred to in alternative ways, often consisting of just the sound of the letter. For example, Y may be called y rather than igrek (from "Greek i").
When giving the spelling of words, certain letters may be said in more emphatic ways to distinguish them from other identically pronounced characters. For example, H may be referred to as samo h ("h alone") to distinguish it from CH (ce ha). The letter Ż may be called żet (or zet) z kropką ("Ż with a dot") to distinguish it from RZ (er zet). The letter U may be called u otwarte ("open u", a reference to its graphical form), to distinguish it from Ó, which is sometimes called u zamknięte ("closed u") or o kreskowane ("dashed o").
Note that (unlike in languages such as French) Polish letters with diacritics are treated as fully independent letters in alphabetical ordering. For example, być comes after bycie. The diacritic letters also have their own sections in dictionaries (words beginning with ć are not usually listed under c).
Digraphs are not given any special treatment in alphabetical ordering. For example, ch is treated simply as c followed by h, and not as a single letter as in Czech.
There are several systems for encoding the Polish alphabet for computers. All letters of the Polish alphabet are included in Unicode, and thus Unicode-based encodings such as UTF-8 and UTF-16 can be used. The Polish alphabet is completely included in the Basic Multilingual Plane of Unicode. The standard 8-bit character encoding for the Polish alphabet is ISO 8859-2 (Latin-2), although both ISO 8859-13 (Latin-7) and ISO 8859-16 (Latin-10) encodings include glyphs of the Polish alphabet. Microsoft's format for encoding the Polish alphabet is Windows-1250.
For other encodings, see Polish code pages.
A common test sentence containing all the Polish diacritic letters is the nonsensical Zażółć gęślą jaźń ("Yellowize the mind with/of a gusle").